Archive for June, 2010

Spiritual Formation as a goal of Theological Education

One of the three major goals for theological education in the Bible College model, is that of spiritual formation. This term is of recent use within the movement, but the need to progress in the Christian life and discipleship, to deepen one’s relationship with God and to work out holiness in living have always been seen as a bundle of fundamental aims for a college.This survey essay attempts to set this goal in the context of theological education’s thinking about the matter in the second half of the 20th century.

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What sort of Bible Colleges do we need for the 21st Century ? by Derek Tidball

Author: Derek Tidball

A lecture given at the Centre for Theological Education in Belfast – March 2006

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What is wrong with the preparation of Christian workers in colleges and is theological education by extension a better alternative by Judith Dunn

Author: Judith Dunn

This essay will seek to address the above question by looking firstly at problems which arise from Institutional Theological Education and then at various alternative approaches to Theological Education with emphasis on Theological Education by Extension (TEE). It is my aim to ultimately conclude whether or not TEE is a satisfactory alternative to the more traditional approach currently offered by many different institutions
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Accreditation of Training for Christian Service

Many institutions and programmes training people for Christian service and ministry today are accredited by universities or government approved accrediting agencies. This was not always the case and the article examines historical reasons for this reversal, the supporting arguments for such a linkage and the critics of such a relationship between Christian seminaries or colleges and secular accreditation. The conclusion is reached…

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A History of Spiritual Formation in Evangelical Theological Education

Spiritual formation has almost always been a strength of the evangelical tradition. This is true as to intention, that we have generally stated discipleship to be the greatest objective in theological education, and as to delivery in that there is a strong history of missionary and ministry preparation which has worked to produce godly missionaries and ministers because we regard them as the most effective for the Kingdom.

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A theology of coffee

 

When you come to think of it, the coffee break in a theological college or seminary is a strange thing. We call a halt to lecturing and training the future leaders of the churches in order for us all to imbibe a drug together, and then resume our activities.

Coffee breaks seem to have begun in the USA early in the 20th century as part of the improvement in working conditions in factories and first had the name “coffee break” attached to them around 1952 when a coffee company used the phrase “give yourself a Coffee Break” in advertising. At some stage, the practice must have transferred across to theological schools, possibly via the universities, so now it is an almost universal practice.

In the minds of the teaching staff, a coffee break generally performs a refreshing function for the students – increased blood sugar levels, caffeine acting as a neuro-transmitter and a short rest for tired brains, all make for more attention in the next few lectures. But the student see the social function of the coffee break as paramount. The formal structure of interaction in the lecture room gives way to the more attractive informal chat and bonding over coffee, which is at least as important to them as academics.

But is there a more intimate connection between beverages and theology? (please take what follows with a small pinch of salt).

In the Reformation era, it was common for theologians to drink wine or beer. Luther was famous for his beer froth on the table at Marburg, Calvin was partly paid by the city of Geneva in wine for his cellar and many of the first batch of English reformers used to meet at the White Horse Inn in Cambridge. They wrote a type of theology which was deeply concerned with the fundamental issues, the big ideas of theology.

In the last few hundred years, the total abstinence movement in North America, UK and a few places on the continent has meant that the usual beverage for theologians, when they are on their own and when they meet in theological seminaries, conferences, etc. is no longer alcohol, but coffee.

Has this affected the nature of the theology done? Does the mind of someone who has drunk an alcoholic drink tend to concentrate on the big ideas and a mind affected by caffeine tends to make fine distinctions – preferring the trees to the wood?

Actually, Christian theologians were comparatively late in discovering the blessings of coffee in their calling. Below is a poem from the Arabic dated around 1511 in Mecca. I found it while browsing a book on the history of coffee houses (The Penny Universities) in the British Library a few years ago. It says all that needs to be said…….

“O coffee, thou dost dispel all cares,
Thou art the object of desire to the scholar.
This is the beverage of the friends of God;
It gives health to those in its service,
Who strive after wisdom.”

Maybe there is a case for coffee times interspersed by lecture breaks. 

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